Sonoran Skipper (Polites sonora) (Scudder, 1872)

Diagnosis: Males are bright orange, females orange brown, both with diffuse darker-brown borders. Males have a slightly darker spot that appears to extend the length of the stigma. Beneath, the hindwing of both sexes has a very distinct crescent-shaped medial band of small pale spots plus several small spots near the base, on a yellowish-brown ground colour. Wingspan: 25 to 27 mm.

Subspecies: There are three, but only subspecies siris reaches Canada.

Range: Polites sonora is found in the western mountains and the Pacific coast of the U.S., reaching Canada only at four locations in the extreme southern interior of British Columbia, north to Merritt.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Long Dash Skipper (P. mystic); the "long dash" of mystic is blacker and more distinct. The underside medial band of sonora is clearer and more contrasting than that of mystic. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is greyish green with a black head. Foodplants are grasses, possibly Idaho Fescue (Festuca idahoensis) (Tilden and Smith, 1986).

Abundance: Common and widespread in the U.S., the Sonoran Skipper is rare and local in Canada.

Flight Season: It flies from mid-July to mid-August in British Columbia.

Habits: Polites sonora flies in moist grassy areas from low elevations high into the mountains.

Remarks: This species is known from such a small area in Canada that it is considered threatened in this country (Guppy et al., 1994).

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.